Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Elrathia kingii Trilobite


My cousin Kenny just finished prepping this fossil using a dental tool and engraver to uncover mostly a whole trilobite. It appears to be an Elrathia kingii (Meek, 1870) trilobite. It was found in the Wheeler Formation of Delta, Utah. The fossil dates to the Cambrian Period.

Saturday, November 11, 2023

Samuel Addison Casseday - Louisville Geologist


While reviewing some pages from the The Journal of the Cincinnati Society of Natural History Volume V Number 8 October 1882 article "Brief Mention of some of the Men who Aided in Developing the Science of Geology in America, but who are known no longer, except by their Works" by S. A. Miller pages 101-115, a new name was revealed to me tied to Louisville's natural history past. Samuel Almond Miller (1836-1897) starts the article off with this note: "Investigation, as some of the geologists have not received obituary notices in the scientific journals, and not being members of scientific societies they have passed away from their field of labor without proper public notice. It is but just that their names should be commemorated, and this article, even in its incompleteness, will no doubt possess some value for reference, and as a basis for a more thorough biography."

He writes on page 107, "S. A. CASSEDAY was born in Louisville, Ky., and died at the same place, in September, 1860. He is remembered for his valuable publications upon the Crinoidea."



His father was Samuel Casseday born August 6, 1795 in Lexington, Virginia. After his father Peter Casseday, a American Revolutionary War veteran, died, his family moved to Kentucky in 1813. By 1822, he worked as a carpenter in Louisville and in 1824 after apprenticing as a clerk at John S. Snead's hardware store. From there he and another store employee John Bull became dealers in queensware, glass and china goods through their company Bull & Casseday. In 1835, a new firm formed as Casseday, Raney, & Gamble which later became Casseday & Hopkins and by 1865 just Casseday and Sons. Samuel retired in 1870. He helped a number of charitable institutions during his lifetime: the Blind Asylum, the Orphanage at Anchorage, the Cooke Benevolence, the Presbyterian School. He died on July 2, 1876 in Louisville.

Early Life

It is unclear the exact date of Samuel Addison Casseday's birth. His mother was Eliza McFarland Casseda (1800-1849) of Philadelphia. A birth date recorded in his brother-in-law's Bible lists November 13, 1831. His youngest sister in 1922 described their childhood environment growing up in one of her published books:

The Casseday home was notable in its day. In 1844 father bought an elevated plateau right in the heart of Louisville, Kentucky. There were eight children of us and he built a big sunny house, providing winter romp-rooms for his four little girls and a completely furnished carpenter shop for his four growing boys. This wise provision kept his girls and boys at home and also supplied companionship with the boys and girls of his friends... We were a big, happy, cultured family, bookish and artistic. I think we were modest withal, of our very fortunate circumstances did not strike us as exceptional at all or a matter to be vain of, but only as a happy matter of course. Father and mother, both, early taught us the Golden Rule as a rule for life.

The Casseday Family House from 1844-1865 in Louisville


The Louisville newspapers listed geology talks that were given in the city around the mid-1800s. The first of these appeared in the The Louisville Daily Courier on Monday, June 4, 1849 stating the monthly meeting of the Academy of Natural Science at 8 o'clock will have a lecture on geology by S.A. Casseday, Esq.

He traveled to Europe to expand his geological studies from 1853 to 1854.

In 1854 he published in German Abdruck a. d . Zeitschr . d . deutschen geologischen Gesellschaft Jahrg .237 where he described the crinoid genus Batocrinus and two species B. icosidactylus (shown at the top of this posting) and B. irregularis (shown below). S. A. Miller translated this into English in the Eighteenth Report of the Geological Survey of Indiana of September 1892. It was entitled " DESCRIPTION OF A NEW GENUS OF CRINOIDS FROM THE MOUNTAIN LIMESTONE OF NORTH AMERICA , BY MR. CASSEDAY, OF LOUISVILLE, KENTUCKY. "

On Saturday, August 25, 1855, page 4 The Louisville Daily Courier published this notice:

We are glad to hear that an effort is being made, with every prospect of success, to reorganize the Louisville Natural History Society. Two winters ago it had a brief, but highly useful existence, and the memory of the instructive and pleasant lectures, delivered under the auspices, is yet cherished by those who were so fortunate as to be hearers... There are others, younger in years, but scarcely less proficient than their seniors, whose ambition in so unusual a province of study should be stimulated by popular approbation. Among these is Mr. S. A. Casseday, a young gentleman whose natural inclinations and talents have been furthered by the greatest possible advantages in the scientific schools of Germany. In him the Natural History Society has an enthusiastic, yeet unassuming member, whose labors the older members highly appreciate.

The Louisville Daily Courier on Monday,  November 8, 1858 that the Academy of Natural Science appointed Mr. S.A. Casseday chair and Prof. Wm. Hailmain as secretary. They listed the objectives of the group:

1. The formation of a library pertaining to natural sciences.
2. The cultivation of natural sciences by its members.
3. The diffusion of a taste for natural science in the community, by means of public lectures.
The same paper on Monday, November 15, 1858 listed that evening the society would hold a meeting at the Female High School at the corner of Center and Walnut Streets. Mr. Casseday will read a paper entitled "Apparent Discrepancies between the Mosaic and Geologic Account of Creation."

On September 27, 1858, The Louisville Daily Courier published a description of Saturday (September 25, 1858) Sixth Annual Exhibition by The Kentucky Mechanics Institute. The following refers to Dr. James Knapp who I wrote about in an early posting. They listed:
A case of fossils and minerals, from the cabinet of Dr. Knapp, presents a fruitful field for thought. Corals from the ancient coral reef of the falls, now many thousands of years old; minerals elaborated in the recondite laboratories of the globe; and huge stalactites, formed by the slow dripping of water form the roof of some cavern; combine to carry the feelings back into a former existence, dreamed of only by geologists... Some fine calumets, made from the redstone quarries of the Northwest, belonging to the same gentleman, remind us of the quint description of this peculiar stone in Longfellows' Hiwatha. A case of birds, animals, etc. for the cabinet of S.A. Casseday, Esq., complete this portion of the exhibition.

The Louisville Daily Courier Wednesday November 17, 1858 edition page 1 published a notice by the The Academy of Science in Louisville, Kentucky. 

We regret that the initiate meeting of this institution, which promises to prove so valuable in directing the literary tastes of our city, should have been marked by the production of a paper that is likely to cause suspicion to rest upon the Academy. We refer to the essay of Mr. S.A. Casseday. He argued with great ingenuity, much plausibility, and show of learning worthy of a better cause, that the Mosaic account of the creation did not coincide with that deduced by geologists. It would be an easy task, but one that we do not covet, to disprove the assumption of Mr. Casseday. There is, and there can be, no real discrepancy between the bible and geology. The impress of the Divine hand is upon both. Each sustain the other. We have high admiration of Mr. Casseday's talent, and regret that he has seen fit to expend this time and researches in so questionable a manner. Mr. Dembitz reads the next paper before the Society. The following officers were chosen Monday night: President, S. A. Casseday; Vice President, T. E. Jenkins; Secretary, W. N. Hailman; Treasurer, G. Dembitz; Librarian, C. G. Knapp.

On Wednesday, January 19, 1859, page 1 The Louisville Daily Courier published an article entitled OUR FALLS. It follows:
Since the eventful day upon which Gen. Geo. Rogers Clark set sail from the midst of "our falls" upon the adventurous expedition which proved so fruitful of honor to his arms, the falls about the Ohio have proven a historic object. That they were converted into a higher, and holier, and deeper interest has not been generally known. Last evening, Prof. Yandell delivered, in the University Hall, an elaborate discourse upon the geological formation of the falls. He demonstrated conclusively that the action of ages had changed the formation of the rocks. Think of it! We might have had a cascade of water that would have equaled the famed Niagara. Prof. Yandell demonstrated the positions of his lecture of a fine display of corals and other geological specimens. Together with Mr. S. A. Casseday, he has the finest collection of Devonian rocks in the world. They are all a truthful witness of the great I AM.
In a biographically book published in 1882, his sister Fannie listed is entry as "was a geologist, and was a correspondent of Alexander von Humboldt, Lyell, and Prof. Rose... he died under thirty years of age." Alexander von Humboldt (1769-1859) was a famous German naturalist and explorer. Humboldt met with President Thomas Jefferson in 1804 where the had earlier discussed among other things, mammoth teeth fossils.
His sister Fannie wrote a history book, The Child's Story of the Making of Louisville in 1914, on page 24 she writes about the Falls of the Ohio and her memories of collecting fossils with her brother.
The term Falls appears hardly justifiable to the people of to-day. There seem now not even to be the rough and roaring eddies which danced in the sunlight before the eyes of the writer when, as a little girl, her geologist brother used to take her over the Falls at low water, his hammer in his hand and a bag for rare specimens of corals and shells slung over his shoulder.

Wonderful and beautiful and curious were the fossils he collected form that old Devonian sea, which once so teemed with life. From all over the civilized world men of science used to come to Kentucky and to Louisville to study the fossil remains on the Ohio Falls. Even that great man, Alexander von Humboldt, wrote autograph letters on the subject to that same brother, one of which still remains in the family. Even now at lowest water, when the Kentucky chute is dry or very nearly so, one can see an ancient coral reef made of fine-textured "coral sand" about twenty feet in thickness and filed with fossilized corals exquisitely preserved. Louisville children should visit the Falls and see conditions there for themselves.


His oldest brother Benjamin Casseday (1825-1878) became a journalist and later wrote the 1852 book, History of Louisville

His brother Alexander C. Casseday (1836-1862) enlisted in the Confederate army and attained the rank of major. He was captured in Cumberland, Kentucky and later died in a prisoner of war camp in Columbus, Ohio on March 21, 1862.

His oldest sister Mary W. Casseday (1839-1874) married a Presbyterian Reverend William Thomas McElroy (1829-1910). After his death, Reverend McElroy's paper's ended up in the Filson Historical Society along with S.A. Casseday's geological diary from his trip to Europe and letters during that time.

It turns out the most famous person in the family would be his sister Jennie H. Casseday (1840-1893) who was in a horrific horse carriage accident when she was 21 years old. After the accident she was bedridden the rest of her living days.  In 1878 she created the Jennie Casseday Flower Mission to distribute flowers and scripture texts to the poor and sick of the community. The mission also distributed flowers to those in prisons. This movement gained popularity and by 1882 was spread across the United States with the help of the Women's Christian Temperance Union. She also helped organize the Louisville chapter of the Order of the King's Daughters.

Samuel Anniston's youngest sister Fannie Casseday Duncan (1844-1936) wrote a number of books and was quite the historian. Some of those books include: The Child's Story of the Making of Louisville (1914), The Message of the Lord's Prayer To Men of the Twentieth Century (1919),  Jennie Casseday of Louisville (1922), and When Kentucky Was Young (1928).


While the Find-A-Grave web site record for Samuel Addison does not list a birth or death date or a picture of his gravestone when I started writing this. So I visited Cave Hill Cemetery and took some pictures in section B, lot 75 where the Casseday family is buried. Reverend McElroy's Bible lists S.A. Casseday death date as September 13, 1860. The gravestone degraded after 160 years and is hard to read. It looked to me that the death year was 1860 and the day was 13 while I could not make out the month.

This is a picture of the Casseday family plot at Cave Hill Cemetery. The arrow points to S.A. Casseday grave. The large stone with a sphere at the top of it is where his sister Jennie Casseday is buried. It was paid for by donations from the school children of Louisville.

On October 15, 1860, The Louisville Daily Courier published this on page 3:

Kentucky Museum - We are gratified to learn that Samuel Casseday, Esq., has deposited in this promising institution the cabinet of his lamented son, Samuel A. Casseday. The collection is of rare value, comprising more than two thousand paleontological specimens, selected and arranged with scientific care, many of them discovered and described for the first time by the collector. Surely no more fitting monument could be elevated by the afflicted father to his departed son, and generations will bless the diligent collector and faithful scholar for the benefits and pleasures afforded them by the result of his patient toil and research in the field of science.


I am not sure what became of the Kentucky Museum that probably the holotype specimens of Batocrinus crinoid fossils went to. The Smithsonian and Harvard collection databases show this genus in their collections and some are from Indiana. The Harvard collection shows 7 specimens of Batocrinus irregularis from Spergen Hill, Indiana (type locality) that were collected by George H.(K) Green(e), catalog number IPCR-27. It could be possible that New Albany, Indiana fossil dealer Greene obtained the Kentucky Museum's collection and later sold it to Harvard.

 In 1868 F. B. Meek & A.H. Worthen in the Proceedings of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia article "Notes on some points in the Structure and Habitats of the Palaezoic Crinoidea" named a new species of crinoid Batocrinus cassedayanus in which they wrote "The specific name is given in honor of Mr. S. A. Casseday, deceased, the author of the genus Batocrinus."

Friday, November 10, 2023

Echinolampas hoffmani Enchinoderm Fossils

This image is of an Echinolampas hoffmani (Desor, 1847) enchinoderm fossils. The creatures existed in the Pliocene Epoch of the Neogene Period. Fossila were discovered in Parlascio, Toscana, Italy.

Picture taken at Museo di Geologia e Paleontologia Florence Italy (Università degli Studi di Firenze) on August 2019.

Thursday, November 9, 2023

Typhis horridus Gastropod Fossils

This image is of a Typhis (Hirtotyphis) horridus (Brocchi, G.B., 1814) gastropod fossils. The creatures existed in the Pliocene Epoch of the Neogene Period. Fossil was discovered in Orciano Pisano, Toscana, Italy.

Picture taken at Museo di Geologia e Paleontologia Florence Italy (Università degli Studi di Firenze) on August 2019.

Sunday, November 5, 2023

Elaecrinus verneuili Blastoid Fossil

Here is a picture taken in 2009 at Coopers Lane Quarry in Clark County Indiana USA. It appears to be an Elaecrinus verneuili (Römer [aka Roemer], 1851) blastoid fossil embedded in limestone floor of the quarry. Stem segments of crinoids and blastoids are fossilized around it along with a Fenestella bryozoan netting fossil. All of this would be broken up by the quarry later but got an image of it before that happened. This layer might be the Jeffersonville Limestone and dates back to the Devonian Period.

 Panoramic view of the quarry at the time.


Tuesday, October 31, 2023

Brevispirifer gregarius Brachiopod Fossil


This brachiopod fossil appears to be the Brevispirifer gregarius (Clapp). It was found in the Jeffersonville Limestone which dates to the Middle Devonian Period. The fossil was probably found around Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky. It was from the collection of Dr. James Conkin (1924-2017) with no label. The species name attributed to Dr. Asahel Clapp (1792-1862).

Monday, October 23, 2023

Rogers Clark Ballard Thruston - Louisville Geologist

My interest in this geologist stems from some fossil specimens found in Colonel Lucien Beckner's collection a Pennsylvanian Period gastropod found in the coal mines of eastern Kentucky and some gastropods from maybe the Eocene of Naples, Florida.

Early Years

Rogers "Rog" Clark Ballard was born on November 6, 1858 to Frances "Fanny" Ann Thruston (1826-1896) and Andrew Jackson Ballard (1815-1885) in Louisville, Kentucky, USA. He was born into a wealthy and prestigious family; his great-grandmother was George Rogers Clark (1752-1818) sister. Rogers began his early education at Hopkins Grammer of New Haven, Connecticut and then Williston Seminary of East Hampton, Massachusetts. After his freshman year of college, in the summer of 1877 he helped his father with mining interests in Colorado thus missing the start of his sophomore term.

He graduated in 1880 from the Sheffield Scientific School of Yale University with a degree of Bachelor of Philosophy. To round out his education, late in life the University of Louisville conferred a Master of Arts degree upon him in 1937 and the University of Kentucky awarded him a degree of Doctor of Laws in 1942.


After graduating Yale, he started as a clerk for the Monon Railroad office in Louisville and worked his way up to Assistant Ticket Auditor. Later, he became a metallurgist for the Kentucky Geological Survey (KGS) on July 1, 1882. At the age of 25, on October 27, 1884, the Fayette County Court appended his mother's maiden name Thruston to his last name. His mother, the last of the Thrustons, wanted her family name to live on but as it turned out, he never married or had any children. He would sign paperwork with his initials RCBT or R.C. Ballard Thruston. 


Appears to be a Bellerophon meekianus gastropod fossil found by George Rogers Ballard Thruston in 1883 in a coal seam at Elkhorn Creek, Pike County, Kentucky.

He helped survey and photograph ("kodak") Pike, Letcher, Harlan, and Bell counties till he left the KGS in 1887. RCBT took employment with the Kentucky Union Land Company where he was buying land in Harlan and Bell counties as well as Wise and Lee counties in Virginia for coal and iron mining. By 1890, he was promoted to Superintendent of the Land Department where he worked on acquiring land for timber and coal in Estill, Powell, Lee, Breathitt, Perry and Letcher counties. In the 1880s, he and his brothers acquired acreage through the Interstate Investment Company in the Big Stone Gap section of Virginia for coal production. RCBT managed the Big Stone Gap Iron Company from 1895 to 1899.

As a side note, The Trail of the Lonesome Pine by John Fox, Jr. (1862-1919) was published in 1908. It became one of the best selling books in the United States in 1908 and 1909. The story takes place in the Appalachian Mountains of Virginia and Kentucky. Its main character is geologist John Hale who the author in part based on Rogers Clark Ballard Thruston. The story was adapted into a 1912 Broadway production, a 1916 Cecil B. DeMille film, a 1923 film and a 1936 film starring Fred MacMurray (1908-1991), Sylvia Sidney (1910-1999), and Henry Fonda (1905-1982). The author John Fox, Jr. was a friend to RCBT in 1890 where his family lived at Big Stone Gap, Virginia.

A colorized image from John Fox Jr. 1908 book The Trail of the Lonesome Pine showing the main characters mountain girl June Tolliver and geologist-engineer Jack Hale. It is thought heroine is based off a Keokee, Virginia girl Elizabeth Morris and the character Jack is partially based off of Rogers Clark Ballard Thruston who was a surveying geologist in the Big Stone Gap, Virginia area.


In 1919, at the age of 61, Thruston retired with the intent to spending the rest of life studying history and traveling.

On November 18, 1921 he helped dedicate the Sunshine Ballard Cabin to Berea College. It was in honor of one of his relatives. The cabin allowed the school to expand its Fireside Industries department which taught weaving, basketry, homespun and hand work.

In 1922, he traveled to Naples, Florida, while there he found a number of gastropod shells (fossils?) known as Theodoxus reclivatus (Say, 1822) [modern name is Vitta usnea (Röding, 1798)].


In 1925, he participated in a history pageant in Lexington, Kentucky and dressed as his ancestor George Rogers Clark. He would spend the rest of his life promoting a monument be created to honor George Rogers Clark.

In 1930, he unveiled a monument to George Rogers Clark in Springfield, Illinois.

The Filson Historical Society

Today, the biggest impact Mr. Thruston left upon the Louisville area were his contributions to The Filson Historical Society (FHS). In 1919, he offered $50,000 to help the society obtain a fireproof room to store its collections. When the founder of the society, Reuben T. Durrett died in 1913, his family sold his historic collection the University of Chicago. RCBT went to Chicago to retrieve items that really belonged to the society and returned them to Louisville. He was president of the society from 1923 to 1946. In 1923, he helped the society purchase a new home and in 1929 covered half the cost of moving into it. 

He purchased F. W. Leach's research work The Genealogies of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence and donated to the FHS. His photo collection of over 20,000 images from 1880-1942 was also donated to the FHS collection. He contributed the following to the FHS History Quarterly

1926 The Signing of the Declaration of Independence 

1928 Letter by Edward Harris 1797 

1935 Some Recent Findings Regarding the Ancestry of General George Rogers Clark 

1937 Reprint of The Filson Club Program of June 25 1937 The Lincoln Pilgrimage

1940 Rachel Eastham Not Mary Byrd or Bird was the Wife of John Rogers The Grandfather of George Rogers Clark

1941 After the Death of George Rogers Clark


He died at 2:15 a.m. at Jewish Hospital in Louisville, Kentucky on December 30, 1946. His funeral was held at Christ Church Cathedral followed by his burial at Cave Hill Cemetery. His remains are buried next to his parents in section G, lot 24, grave 12 at the cemetery.

RCBT left a very explicit 9 page will. 

Here is part of it, "As to the disposition of my remains after death. I am the holder of lots 24 and 25 in Section G, in Cave Hill Cemetery, Louisville, Kentucky. There are buried the remains of my maternal grand-parents and their children, my parents, a brother, my sister and certain law kin. The space next to the grave of my father has been set aside for my remains. There I have erected a headstone with an inscription complete except as to the dates of my death; that date I direct nay executor to
have suitably inscribed thereon.
My desire is that my body be cremated; that my ashes be placed in a simple glass, metal or pottery container and buried on the site above named. I also desire that all unnecessary forms and ceremonies be dispensed with and that the disposition of my remains after my death be accomplished simply, quickly and inexpensively."

As described above, his financial and research material contributions to the Filson Historical Society are probably most lasting mark on the Louisville area. In 1947, they devoted an entire issue of the History Quarterly to his memory. 

Besides the fossils I have documented earlier he also left specimens to old museum that was part of the Louisville Free Public Library which was later transferred to what is now the Kentucky Science Center. They are de-accessioning that collection so Thruston's items might now go to the Filson Historical Society or Frazier History Museum. The Speed Art Museum has some of his paintings including one called the View of Jerusalem from 1867.

He and his brothers donated a number of pieces of land to become parks: Ballard Square, Churchill Park and George Rogers Clark Park. In addition, they deeded the original home of George Rogers Clark on Poplar Level Road to the City of Louisville.


Saturday, October 21, 2023

Syringothyrus texta Brachiopod Fossil

These pictures are of what appears to be a Syringothyrus texta (Hall, 1857) brachiopod fossil. On the hinge line and where the shells come together shows imprints of a Conularia fossil. It was found in the Carwood Formation of Floyd County, Indiana, USA. The fossil dates to the Mississippian Period. Thanks to Kenny for the images.

Friday, October 20, 2023

Bucanopsis Gastropod Fossil

These pictures are of what appears to be a Bucanopsis (Ulrich and Scofield, 1897) gastropod fossil. It was found in the Carwood Formation of Floyd County, Indiana, USA. The fossil dates to the Mississippian Period. Thanks to Kenny for the images.

Thursday, October 19, 2023

Prolecanites americanis Ammonite Fossil

These pictures are of what appears to be a Prolecanites americanis (Miller and Garner, 1953) ammonite fossil. It was found in the Carwood Formation of Floyd County, Indiana, USA. The fossil dates to the Mississippian Period. Note the black suture lines seen in the image.

 Thanks to Kenny for the images.

Wednesday, October 18, 2023

Conularia Fossil

This picture is of a recently found Conularia fossil that is about 1 cm long. It was found in the Carwood Formation of Floyd County, Indiana, USA. The fossil dates to the Mississippian Period. Thanks to Kenny for the image.

Sunday, October 8, 2023

Cyclonema Snail Fossils


Pictures are of two Cyclonema (Hall, 1852) snail fossils found in Clark County, Kentucky, USA. They were probably collected in the 1930s by Colonel Lucien Beckner (1872-1963). The fossils date to the Ordovician Period. Colonel Beckner was a long time curator of the Louisville Museum of Natural History.

Thursday, October 5, 2023

Halysites louisvillensis Chain Coral Fossil


This specimen is somewhat unique in what is normally found, it contains very visible mesocorallites quadrilaterals. It is described as a new species in Erwin Stumm's Silurian and Devonian Corals of the Falls of the Ohio on page 79 as Halysites louisvillensis (Stumm, 1964). Stumm writes about it, "The species is externally similar to Catenipora microparus (Whitfield) but differs in the presence of the very small mesocorallites."

Most of the specimens of chain corals I have seen, one cannot see the little square shapes in between the chain shapes. It is possible they are there but after hundreds of millions of years they blended together obscuring the four sided shape.

This fossil is found in the Louisville Limestone of Jefferson County Kentucky USA. It dates to the Middle Silurian Period.


Thursday, September 21, 2023

Rhodophyte Algae Fossil


Here are some pictures of rhodophyte algae fossils. They were seen at Bailey's Point on the Barren River in Kentucky USA. The fossils were found in the Fort Payne Formation which dates to the Mississippian Period.

Thanks to Kenny for the pictures.

Wednesday, September 20, 2023

Dr. John H. Lemon - New Albany Indiana Paleontologist


The 1910 U.S. Census lists John Herschel Lemon was born in September 1844 and his obituary lists at a farm near Harrodsburg, Indiana. His family moved to Bloomington, Indiana in 1856 when he was 12, where at age 13 he and his brothers became students at Indiana University (IU). The American Civil War interrupted his studies and in May 1862 he became a private in the 54th Indiana Infantry, Company A and later 82nd Indiana Infantry, Company F. They guarded 4000+ Confederate prisoners of war (POWs) at Camp Morton (Indianapolis) and later deployed to western Kentucky.

The Owen Connection

His interest in paleontology may have been inspired by geologist Richard D. Owen (1810-1890) who was boarder at his mother's house in Bloomington, Indiana. Owen was professor on Natural Science at IU for 15 years and served as colonel in the Union Army in the 15th and later 60th Indiana Infantry Regiment and was in charge of the POWs at Camp Morton. His permanent residence was in New Harmony, Indiana and where he is buried when he died.

After the war, John Lemon continued his studies at IU and later studied at University of Michigan. Once he became a doctor, he moved to New Albany in 1867 and practiced medicine till the 1930s. He died on July 10, 1935 which at that time he was considered Indiana's longest serving physician.

The Smithsonian Connection

In 1887, Dr. Lemon sent the Smithsonian some charophyte fossils found at the Falls of the Ohio. F. H. Knowlton (1860-1926) named the fossil after him in 1889 calling it Calcisphaera lemoni in a paper called Description of a problematic organism from the Devonian at the Falls of the Ohio. The holotype specimens are in the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History USNM P 3664.

The George Greene Connection

New Albany fossil collector and author George K. Greene named a number of fossils after Dr. Lemon in publications from 1904. Greene named the fossil horn coral Heliophyllum lemoni in which wrote "The specific name is in honor of Dr. John Lemon, of New Albany, Ind., an ardent collector and a good palaeontologist. Found in the lower Devonian (Corniferous group), at the Falls of the Ohio. Now in the collection of the author." Later in his publication, he named another fossil after Lemon, the Crania? lemoni. "The specific name in in honor of the discoverer, Dr. John Lemon, of New Albany, Ind."


The Colonel Lucien P. Beckner Connection

Beckner had two fossils of Dr. Lemon in his collection. The first was a Paraconularia newberryi (Winchell) fossil still partially embedded in a nodule.Another was labeled Pentremites pyriformis? blastoid both fossils listed as found in Indiana.



In preparing this entry about Dr. Lemon, an informative blog post entitled Dr. John Herschel Lemon Reminisces about Early Life in Bloomington by Randi Richardson on November 26, 2018 at the Monroe County History Center Research Library blog was found helpful.

George K. Greene's Contribution to Indiana Palaeontology Volume I Part I to XX published from February 1898 till September 1904.

Smithsonian National Musuem of Natural History Department of Paleobiology Collections database

Frank Hall Knowlton's 1889 paper Description of a problematic organism from the Devonian at the Falls of the Ohio

Sunday, September 17, 2023

Earth Scientists Buried at Fairview Cemetery

Last Friday, I attended a fundraiser at Fairview Cemetery in New Albany, Indiana, USA presented by the Friends of Fairview called Stories Behind The Stones A Tour of Historic Fairview Cemetery. This year's topic was "Fairview's Honored Veterans" Part II. This tour covered 4 veterans for World War I & II, Korea Conflict, and Vietnam. Next year with be 14th Annual Event, September 20-21, 2024 and the tops is "Fairview's Magnificent Ladies".

Similar to my earlier post about the scientists at Cave Hill Cemetery, it seemed like a good time to highlight burials at this New Albany cemetery. My research so far as revealed 3 scientists buried at the Fairview Cemetery and another nearby.


Dr. Asahel Clapp (1792-1862)

Asahel Clapp was born in Vermont in October 5, 1792. He trained under Dr. Benjamin Chandler of St. Albans, Vermont and did not graduate from a medical school. In 1817, he traveled to New Albany, Indiana and stayed with one of the founding brothers of the town Joel Scribner (1792-1823). A few years later on September 30, 1819, he married Joel's 17 year old daughter, Mary Lucinda Scribner (1894-1821) who died not long after. In 1822, he married the widow of Nathaniel Scribner (?-1818) an Elizabeth Edwards Scribner (1792-1872).

Dr. Clapp built one of the first brick houses in New Albany and located it on Main Street. The household was in the upper levels while is practice was on the first floor. The first lodge of the fraternity of Free Masons, known as Ziff lodge, No. 8 was organized by Dr. Clapp on September 14, 1818. He was chosen as the first worshipful master. 1820 he was elected president of the Medical Society of Indiana. Also this year he was the first fire chief of the 1st volunteer New Albany Fire Company.

 His diary was kept continuously from April 1819 till a few days before his death in December of 1862. Each entry is started with a weather report, thermometer & barometer reading. As result the U.S. National Weather Service in Louisville, Kentucky incorporated his weather data into their reference data for the years 1819-1862. He was known international for his fossil collecting and had direct contact with  Dr. David Dale Owen (1807-1860), Professor Benjamin Silliman (1779-1864), Albert Koch (1804-1862), and  Charles Lyell (1797-1875).

Asahel Clapp died at his home on Main Street in New Albany, Indiana on the morning of December 17, 1862 after a brief illness. He was buried a Fairview Cemetery in New Albany. Karl Rominger named a species of coral fossil after him called Michelinia clappi. It is not clear where his mineral or fossil collections ended up. Plat 4, Range 4 Lot 11 Grave 3

His son William who he helped train as a doctor. Took over his practice and served during the American Civil War with Indiana 38th as a surgeon. He continued to be a doctor for the New Albany area until his death in 1900.

William W. Borden (1823-1906) 

William Wallace Borden was born on August 23, 1823 in New Providence, Indiana, USA. Growing up in rural southern Indiana farming community, William became interested in fossils in 1862 after Dr. Reid of Salem showed him some crinoid stems and explained how they came about as fossils. This exchange sparked his lifelong study of fossils. His knowledge of geology allowed him to assist Official Geologist of the State, Professor Cox, in 1870s survey some southern Indiana counties. Using this knowledge, he became a member of a mining firm of Borden, Tabor, & Company and a made a large fortune mining in Colorado. One of his partners in this operation was Marshal Field of Chicago who the famous museum there is named after. He sold his mining interests in 1879 and returned to Indiana to use his wealth to help educate those in the local community.

He founded The Borden Institute in 1884 to educate the children of the farm community he grew up in called New Providence (later renamed in honor of him to Borden). Professor Borden also created The Borden Museum. It housed silver and minerals acquired from mines in Leadville, Colorado in 1878 & 1879 where he made his fortune. He bought the Dr. Knapp (of Louisville, Kentucky) Silurian & Devonian Period collection of fossils in 1886. It was a collection built up over 30 years by Dr. Knapp of corals & crinoids found in Beargrass Creek, Kentucky and Falls of the Ohio. He also bought quite a few fossils and artifacts from George K Greene (described below). The fossil above is a Bordenia knappi horn coral with the genus named after him.

After William Wallace Borden died in 1906, the Borden Institute was closed and in 1983 the building was razed after being declared a fire hazard. The museum [Mrs. George W. Robb] donated the fossil collection to the Field Museum in Chicago in 1923. It was estimated to be a 30,000 piece specimen collection.

George K. Greene (1833-1917)

George Kennard Greene was born November 18, 1833 in Columbus, Indiana to Captain George Greene (1802-1877) and Eunice R. Parker Greene (1808-1893).  His parents lived in Hancock County, Kentucky and George K. went to public schools there. He was also tutored in Latin and science privately. As a 13 year old boy, his family was visited by the German paleontologist and showman/entrepreneur Albrecht C. Koch (1804-1867) and his wife who were collecting fossil specimens for a French college. He was hired by Mr. Koch to assist Mrs. Koch on their geological journeys where he learned more about becoming a geologist and fossil dealer. When he was 19, the Kochs settled in Golconda, Illinois where they had lead mines.

After the American Civil War, George opened a  fossil shop in Jeffersonville, Indiana and later moved to Louisville and then Indianapolis. In 1879-1883 he was assistant Indiana state geologist under Professor John Collett where he labeled and classified fossils at State Museum and the Indiana University (IU) geological collection in Bloomington. He sold one-half of his personal collection to IU in 1878 and the other half to the Indiana State Museum in 1882. During the Chicago World's Fair (World's Columbian Exposition) in 1893 he ran his shop there. He ran a fossil shop in New Albany where he sold fossils to Yale, Harvard, and Cambridge, England universities. Greene sold quite a few fossils and artifacts to William Borden who is mentioned above.

Greene left his mark on Louisville's natural history knowledge by publishing Contribution to Indiana Palaeontology Volume I Part I to XX from February 1898 to September 1904 which described and imaged 164 species of local coral fossils. A number of fossil species are named after him including a charophyte fossil (shown above) Moellerina greenei (Ulrich).

He died on August 19, 1917 and is buried in an unmarked grave in Fairview Cemetery next to his second wife who died in 1910 (also in unmarked grave). His son, Newton Greene sold his estimated 400,000+ fossil collection to the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) in New York City for $5,500. The collection today is at the Smithsonian's Museum of Natural History where it was sent in 1960. Note: I Photoshoped a tombstone for him in the above picture, in reality it is just a flat grass plot with no markers. Plat 12, Range 2 Lot 23 Grave 1

 Dr. John H. Lemon (1844-1935)

So technically, Dr. Lemon is buried in U.S. National Cemetery in New Albany but his wife and daughter are buried in Fairview. I will include him with this group. 

In 1887, Dr. Lemon sent the Smithsonian some charophyte fossils found at the Falls of the Ohio. F. H. Knowlton named the fossil after him in 1889 calling it Calcisphaera lemoni. George Greene named two fossils after Dr. Lemon, a horn coral called Heliophyllum lemoni (Greene, 1904) and a pelecypod Crania? lemoni (Rowley, 1904). Greene noted Dr. Lemon was "an ardent collector and good palaeontologist". Colonel Lucien Beckner had a Pentremites pyriformis blastoid fossil in his collection that was passed to Dr. James Conkin that came from Dr. Lemon. Another fossil from that collection is a fossil in a nodule that the label says was acquired after the 1937 flood from Dr. Lemon's collection.Conularia

It is thought John Herschel Lemon was born in September1844 (1910 U.S. Census) on a farm near Harrodsburg, Indiana. His family moved to Bloomington, Indiana in 1856, where at age 13 he became a student at Indiana University (IU). The American Civil War interrupted his studies and in May 1862 he became a private in the 54th Indiana Infantry, Company A and later 82nd Indiana Infantry, Company F. They guarded 5000-6000 Confederate POWs at Camp Morton (Indianapolis) and later deployed to western Kentucky.

His interest in paleontology may have inspired by Richard D. Owen (1810-1890) who was boarder at his mother's house in Bloomington, Indiana. Owen was professor on Natural Science at IU for 15 years and served as colonel in the Union Army in the 15th and later 60th Indiana Infantry Regiment and was in charge of POW Camp Morton. His permanent residence was in New Harmony, Indiana.

After the war, John Lemon continued his studies at IU and later studied at University of Michigan. Once he became a doctor he moved to New Albany in 1867 and practiced medicine till the 1930s. He died on July 10, 1935 which at that time he was considered Indiana's longest serving physician.

Saturday, September 16, 2023

Prunum apicinum Gastropod Shell


This shell appears to be a Common Atlantic Marginella gastropod shell or Prunum apicinum (Menke, 1828). It was found by a 17 year old Lucien Pearson Beckner in 1889 at Naples, Florida, USA. Mr. Beckner was a mentor to Professor James Conkin (1924-2017) and his natural history collection was left to him upon his death.